The annual Alumni Awards recognise alumni from across the University who have achieved excellence in their respective fields and made an outstanding contribution to the wider community.
Dean Cross was awarded the Sister Alison Bush Medal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement. This medal is awarded to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student who has achieved a high standard of academic proficiency and contributed to the diverse life of the broader community and the University.
Drew Trahms received the John C Harsanyi Medal for international student achievement, a medal awarded to an international student who has achieved high academic performance and contributed to the University and wider community.
The first in his family to graduate from University, Dean finished his Bachelor of Visual Arts, which he studied at Sydney College of the Arts, with high distinctions in all but three of his subjects, in which he achieved distinctions. Despite the financial hardship that came with moving to Sydney from Canberra, Dean was able to maintain not just an exceptional academic standard, but many important leadership roles.
Dean was a mentor with AIME in 2015 and has worked with the Wingara Mura-Bunga Barrabugu program to mentor young Indigenous students, as well as creating public programs for NAIDOC week. He was awarded the Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Prize for his outstanding academic results, as well as the University of Sydney Indigenous Progress Award and the Indigenous Student Leadership Award in 2016.
Dean went on to complete his Honours at ANU where he finished first in his cohort and was awarded a University Medal. "A Visual Art degree with such a strong focus on Indigenous Art has been immeasurably valuable".
His greatest lesson: "Back yourself and do not be afraid to not know something. Trust in the expertise of the people around you and work harder than everyone around you."
Having grown up witnessing the impact of poverty on her own community, Drew's commitment to social justice informed her decisions to take on a vow of poverty as an AmericorpsVISTA, undertake a Native American reservation deployment, and move to Australia to study a Master of Political Economy. The latter has given her the skill set to build a rewarding humanitarian career.
Drew lived at Sancta Sophia College while studying, acting as a mentor to Arts and dance students. She was awarded the Jo Martin Prize in Political Economy, as well as the Sydney International Achievers Scholarship, and founded an organisation called 'Believe We Are One', which funds 25 scholarships for students from rural Nicaragua.
"I hope to be an example that if you dream big, you can come from something small and do incredible things".
Her greatest lesson: "The best lesson I have learnt is to be gritty and never be afraid to fail. Building resilience is more valuable a lesson than any course you'll ever pay for, and you'll never know the quantity or quality of what you can achieve unless you try with everything you have".
Over the next 3 years, Dr Nicole Wegner will examine popular assumptions about the “ideal soldier” and how cultural myths shape military policies and priorities in Australia and abroad.